A short while ago we were fortunate enough to celebrate a grand three-day festival in New Braj, in honor of our beloved Srila Gurudeva Nitya Lila Pravista Om Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja. We were blessed with the association of many of our senior god-family, some coming from very far away to celebrate with us.
The first day of the festival kicked off with morning class, morning walk, puspanjalis, decorations and preparations, and many affectionate welcomes. We continued our discussion of guru-tattva, which we had started the evening before. In true Gurudeva style, Brajanatha Prabhu tested us on our knowledge of spiritual topics, reminding us that all should be ready to speak. He then requested that we learn the sloka from BG 4.43 “tad viddhi praṇipātena…” and gave out cookie rewards the first festival day to all those who had memorized and served this sloka.
While others continued to arrive throughout the day, the kitchen and New Braj’s sevaks were in full swing to make sure that all our family members were nicely taken care of and things ran smoothly. We continued our festival with bhajans and puspanjalis in the evening, followed by arati and prasadam prepared with milk products from our new cow mattas (curd and sweet rice!!). Manjari Didi also led heartfelt nighttime bhajans with a small group of restless devotees in Srila Gurudeva’s room, up until the time that he entered into samadhi, just before 3 am.
On Srila Gurudeva’s disappearance day we had another full day of puspanjali’s from all of his darling sons and daughters. Some people sang, others spoke, but all opened up the treasury of their hearts and shared their love for Srila Gurudeva, his profound impact on their life and those around them. Time almost seemed to stop, as we all became completely absorbed in remembrances of Srila Gurudeva. Once again, gurudeva expertly performed his heart surgery, and made his presence tangible in our lives. The profound overflow of pure love Srila Gurudeva contained continuously spilled out of the overflowing hearts that he has pocketed. He reminded us that he is always present; in the heart of his disciples, in his harikatha, and especially in his remembrances and appreciation. This was followed by a rip-roaring arati lead by Jahnava didi and Rasika Didi, a breathless jayadvani and then honoring prasadam.
The third day marked the departure of most of the crew, but not before our sanga’s kirtan celebrity Vijay Krsna prabhu showed up (shoutout, much love bro)! In the morning, much of the youth and New Braj-basis got to share their puspanjali’s. Then there were more ‘raise the roof’ aratis led by Vijay Krsna prabhu and prasadam to top it all off. The love, warmth, and affection of Srila Gurudeva’s presence permeated the temple, after the three days of loving glorification.
The next day, Ekadasi Tithi, we all said our last goodbyes, grateful to have spent another too- brief moment together, developing our relationships with gurudeva and one another through the six loving exchanges[i].
For those sat sisya disciples that are continuously serving, remembering and seeing everything as his guru’s instructions, every day is a celebration of his presence in our lives; every step is in his footsteps and every breath is in his service. By Srila Gurudeva’s mercy, we were allowed to live a shadow of that reality for these past three days.
We would like to again thank all those who attended the festival and shared their hearts, and all who gave their time and energy to make it such a success. Special thanks to our guests Swami Bhaktivedanta Sajjan Maharaja, Sriman Brajanath prabhu, Sriman Radhakanta prabhu, Sriman Puspadanta prabhu and our local senior Vaisnavas Srimati Gopanandini didi, Sriman Bankebihari prabhu, Srimati Govindarupini didi, Sriman Kishori Mohan prabhu and Srimati Sudevi didi. The presence of all the amazing devotees who have dedicated their lives in the service of Srila Gurudeva were the real decorations of this event.
We look forward to hosting more festivals in honor of Srila Gurudeva, and spending more time with all of our god-family from around the world. Everyone is invited to come early to help set up such festivals as these, so that we can make them bigger and better each time! It was a pleasure to remember Srila Gurudeva, and to serve with you all.
On behalf of New Braj Seva Team,
guhyam akhyati pricchati
bhunkte bhojayate caiva
Offering gifts in charity, accepting charitable gifts, revealing one’s mind in confidence, inquiring confidentially, accepting prasada and offering prasada are the six symptoms of love shared by one devotee and another.